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In any introductory philosophy or psychology class, one of the first lessons that’s taught is the importance of perception.
Essentially, the lesson is this: what actually happened is not nearly as important as what people believe happened.
It is in this lesson that Los Alamos Public Schools and Los Alamos County did not put their best foot forward during the recent natural gas shortage.
With an estimated 32,000 people in the state without a source of heat Thursday night, many of them living within a few miles of Los Alamos County, and new Governor Susana Martinez going on television and asking everyone to tighten their belts, the schools and the county could easily be seen as acting coldly and callously to the plight of those affected by this shortage.
Yes, there ultimately were reasons for deciding to keep the public schools open or the Larry R. Walkup Center going without missing a beat. The schools, according to Superintendent Gene Schmidt, were acting as a safe harbor for out-of-district students who otherwise might have been without power at their homes. The county certainly reasoned that it actually taxes gas lines more to reheat a great amount of water than to simply maintain the temperature.
Those are completely valid reasons. Those are also poor choices during a time of crisis.
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